What to see in Cinque Terre
The largest and most populous village of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare, is fortunate to be located on a coast particularly favorable to the establishment of sailors and farmers because it is less harsh than that of the other four countries.In addition to the clear sea and the bright colors of the buildings of the harbor, in the eyes of the visitor stands out, first of all, the huge statue made of iron and concrete, called “Il gigante”, which rises above the long beach and holding the terrace " in oyster " looking for a villa singular completely built in and over the rock, the house belonged to Giovanni Pastine, a Ligurian who made his fortune in Argentina and, on his return, decided to build a villa by the majestic scenery. From the home of the Pastine, characters mentioned in the verses of Montale, there is a path that leads to Punta Mesco, the northern end of the National Park. The promenade that leads from Monterosso to Levanto is the one that involves this stretch, so charming and dotted with Mediterranean plants. On the slopes of Punta Mesco once stood the church of St. Anthony, of which, even today, is possible to see the ruins.In the center of Monterosso rises also the beautiful church of San Francesco, the complex consists of the church and convent of the Capuchins and is characterized by typical facade in alternating stripes of white and gray . The building dates back to 1600, has inside sculptures and paintings, among which the canvas of the Crucifixion attributed, by some critics, to the famous painter Anthony van Dyck. Very beautiful is the walk that you have to walk to get to the church: the ascent San Cristoforo is indeed a scenic trail from which you can admire the spectacle of the sea, even when the sun is setting .One of the symbols of the country is certainly the Aurora Tower, part of one of the defensive ramparts of the city during the Middle Ages, built for the sighting of enemy ships and pirates. The tower is now privately owned, so you can not get inside, but it remains one of the most fascinating buildings that you can see from the sea or from the beach.In Monterosso you can even get through the blue path, the picturesque promenade that hugs the Cinque Terre.
The small village of Vernazza astonishes with its terraces overlooking the sea and with the cylindrical tower that stands on its imposing castle, which is also close to the marine waters . The Doria Castle, dating back to 1080, is one of the most important buildings of the place: it stands on the square base of Belforte and, despite several changes over time, it preserves the architectural features of the ancient defensive rampart. Worth a visit is the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, built on the sea around the first decades of the twelfth century, according to some, of the eleventh according to others. The building has a structure with three naves and an octagonal tower that rests on the four pillars of the presbytery, even though the original medieval facade was destroyed, after the enlargement that the building sustained, you can still appreciate the black stone with which the church was built, and in its interior, the works of the seventeenth century and an ancient wooden crucifix.A charming way to visit Vernazza without renouncing the natural beauty of the landscape is surely to take the path that connects the village to the town of Corniglia. This road is part of the blue trail of the Natural Park Cinque Terre and it is practicable paying a daily ticket or if you are in possession of the Cinque Terre Card.
The small town of Corniglia, Vernazza village in the municipality , is located in the center of the Cinque Terre and is only accessible through the long staircase Lardarina or the road from the train station. One of the most beautiful monuments of the village is the Church of San Pietro, a building dating back to 1334 built in typical Ligurian Gothic style: inside you can see the structure with three naves and the font of the twelfth century, on the facade stands a perforated rose window.Ciapara square is one of the places not to be missed in Corniglia, because is the point from which starts the alley that arrives at the town's main square, Largo Taragio. From here, finally, we reach the Oratory of Santa Caterina . Crossing the road behind the church, trudging you arrive in a small square from which it is possible to see the tower, the only ruin of the ancient Genoese fortifications that still stands: from there you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sea, being able to see even Manarola. Marina di Corniglia, small marina for the exclusive use of boats of the residents, it is accessible thanks to the staircase that connects the Largo Taragio.The beautiful beach of Guvano, dedicated to the nudists, on the other hand is located beneath the wall of the railway and is also accessible from the gallery of the disused railway station.
Colorful buildings close to the sea and postcard beauty: this is Manarola, a hamlet particularly rich of tower houses characterized by Genoese style overlooking the street Discovolo, the main street of the village.
Furthermore from Manarola starts the “La Via dell'Amore” (Way of Love), the most easy and best known of the blue path, which connects the village to the town of Riomaggiore. The walk is completely smooth, it also offers an exciting view of the sea. One of the historic buildings of Manarola is the Church of San Lorenzo, built in 1338 the basilica presents on the facade the typical pierced marble rosette and, internally, a triptych depicting the Madonna and Child, San Lorenzo e Santa Caterina.
Proceeding to Volastra, a hillside village of Manarola, you arrive to the Shrine of Nostra Signora della Salute: the building has a single nave and Romanesque features. Outside, the facade is characterized by a mullioned gothic window overlooking the arched portal in sandstone.
The territory of Riomaggiore extends vertically in the hills, where the colorful houses are built on each other and alternate with small alleys and stairs.The Castle of Riomaggiore, one of the most beautiful monuments of the place, is commonly called " Castellazzo Cerricò ": it is a fortification on the hill Cerricò (hence the name), characterized by a quadrangular boundary wall with two large circular towers. The castle is now the seat of the municipal administration , but in some of the rooms are also organized events and conventions.One of the most beautiful basilicas of Riomaggiore is the Church of San Giovanni Battista, a building dating back to 1340 rebuilt in the seventies of the nineteenth century due to a slump. The rose window in perforated white Carrara marble stands out on the facade, which contrasts with the Gothic church style. Inside, you will find great works of art well preserved.Even Guardiola Tower is worth a visit: the complex, once a fortification of the Royal Navy, is now a formidable natural park. In the area, also known as the Battery, was made a recovery of the spaces in order to prepare modern and functional study rooms: not only it is possible to see texts on plant and animal species of the area or take interest for the history that has affected Riomaggiore, but you can also stop at the dining room, overlooking the sea, for a pleasant break.You can access to the location of Torre Guardiola from the town of Riomaggiore following the path that starts from the marina. Alternatively you can take the road of Riomaggiore that climbing leads to the Resort . The path that rises to the battery from the marine is very interesting from a botanical point of view and is in fact littered with signs that indicate the type of flora present in the tract, covered in 20 minutes. The path , however, is quite steep in some parts, therefore we recommend to less experienced the path that reaches the battery from the main access. The center of Torre Guardiola is open daily from 10.00 to 16.30 in winter and from 10.00 to 18.00 in the summer, access is free.Anyone who wants to enjoy the view from the heights of Riomaggiore is invited to walk “La Via dell’Amore” (Way of Love), a path that goes up to Manarola, which is the easiest part of the long blue path. From here the view of the sea is really lovely, and if the weather permits, you can go through one of the steps of the path and take a dip in the blue sea of the Cinque Terre.